Monica is located in Genesee, Wisconsin and besides being a gifted artist, she is certified as an Equine Sports Massage Therapist and is certified through AANHCP as a Natural Hoof Trimmer.

Monica is building a low-cost Paradise Paddock for her horses and is creating a photo log of the process. You can also visit her homepage at The Natural Hoof for wonderful information on hoof care.

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56 Responses to “Monica Meer’s Wisconsin Paddock Paradise”

  1. Katie Birchenough Says:

    Hi,
    We are getting ready to develop a Paddock Paradise for our horses, and I would love to be in touch with others who are doing this. I am wondering about the length of the circuit in relation to the number of horses. We will have 6 horses on the track. We do not have vast space, but think this is such an awesome idea.
    Thanks,
    Katie

  2. Monica Says:

    Hi Katie,

    I currently have 5 horses on my track. The Paddock Paradise concept is possible on just about any size of acreage.

    One downside I have experienced recently is due to the fact that my track is on a smaller parcel and I have run into some problems this winter with the footing.

    With the higher traffic that this number of horses can produce, as soon as we started to get some heavy rains they quickly turned my track into mud. The soil on the track is clay so it dries out very quickly, but it also tends to really dry out hooves too. I have my sections of gravel which is holding up nicley and this is where I feed during these really wet times. I plan on covering the rest of the track with a variety of stone. This has been my only obstacle up to this point.

    I will be posting an update on my web site soon to show this problem and my solutions so others can continue to learn from my experiences.

    Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress.

    Monica
    http://www.thenaturalhoof.com

  3. Warren Wittkopp Says:

    Hi Monica,
    I hear you are coming next week to my area. I lost your phone number. Please call my cell above and let me know if there is time for me.

    Warren

  4. Pat Schwartz Says:

    I am currently trying to figure out how I can set up a track on my 5+ acres of pasture. Would have 3 on the track…our ground is sand (Minnesota)…mostly flat but after seeing some pictures on these blogs, I think I can also work in treed area.

    Also, in Jaime Jackson’s book there was a reference to a Pasture Paradise website…does it exist? I haven’t actually found one…or maybe these blogs are it.

    I will have to wait for the ground to thaw out before actually pursuing this project but I think it looks like a great idea. Will keep searching for more people who have tried it.

    Thanks.

  5. Chris Says:

    Hi all:

    I just finished reading Jackson’s book and am quickly trying to re-think my whole idea about fencing in the two weeks I have before the fencers come to install my brand new fence! I am new to horsekeeping but this is a life-long dream–to have my own horses and my own place to keep them. One issue for me is budget. What kind of fencing have folks been using? I am considering 5 strands of Endurasoft (Premier) for a perimeter but I was wondering is I could get away with two strands of something else inside? tape? rope? I also have two dairy goats and chickens. I’m also a little concerned about the amount of bare ground in this system. I live on 20 acres of reconstructed prairie and I don’t want to create bare soil that could be eroded and then wash soil into our little creek. I’m also concerned about damaging the water quality of our little creek (very muddy and with weak, dirt sides) by allowing horses into it although the idea of having them in the woods and by the creek makes me smile. Any thoughts? Anyone near Northfield, Minnesota that I could come visit and see how it’s done? Thanks for any help or thoughts you might have!

    Chris

  6. Katie Birchenough Says:

    Hi, We have our track completed (at least for now) and 6 horses are on it. It is great! They do tend to congregate at the gate (probably due to still getting grain and being fed there by the barn owners) but they do move around a good bit, as well. The best part is the pond–we no longer have to monitor the water! I agree with you about the footing, but so far it has not been too bad. They were not on it in winter, though. We have a bunch of rock and stone in one area and I am delighted with the footing there and the effect it has on their hooves (all 6 are barefoot). Norm and Sandy Brown (barn owners) have been generous in letting us try this and it has relieved their pasture. Norm did all the work to make it happen.

  7. Ann Says:

    Hi,
    I live in Adelaide, Australia and the idea has found it’s way here. I am about to set this up and I was worried about the erosion issue as well, but our ground is limestone and flat so we should be ok. I only have one horse and 5 alpacas and wonder if they will move each other on.
    Comments and suggestions welcome.

  8. Betsy Says:

    Hi,
    I live in Minnesota and am considering bringing my ywo horses home (they are at a stable). I wonder what conderations there are winter on a track? Have you run into any difficulties with extreme cold or snow?

    • Dani Ziemer Says:

      Hi!
      I also live in MN and last winter had my first track! I fed the horses on it twice a day and what a difference it made! The only time I fed them in the barn was when it was snowing heavily, as I was worried that the hay would get covered too quickly! I use the “grazer” in the barn to slow them down! The cold doesn’t make much of a difference! The horse usually spend most of their day outside anyways if given the choice. I did blanket them when the winds were really bad or the temperature got below 10 degrees! This spring my horses were more fit and happy than ever before! Make sure you use metal posts at least for the outside fence and corner posts on the inside, as it is impossible to replace posts that break during the winter!!! Good luck!
      Dani

  9. marianne waring Says:

    i would like to have monica’s number to see if she can work with my horse. i live in northern part of illinois next to wis.border i met a lady that you work with her horse up by don bar. she is very impressed with what you did for here horse. so please email me back with your number.

    thank you

    marianne

  10. Monica Says:

    To add some further information for those who have left comments; All issues with my track so far have been weather related.

    My track has held up very nicely over the years. The gravel stayed put and still prvides a firm surface in wet times. I did not do any prep work prior to laying down the stone, so there is some grass poking through. There is one section that the horses prefer to use as their “potty” place, so cleaning it up can be a challenge and it tends to cake into the stone. It still offers a firm surface, just not as abrasive any longer.

    The top soil has eroded away and I find that I have lots of sand on the track now. I am happy with this, since it is more abrasive and natural for their hooves than the dirt.

    The track still gets muddy during the wet season and I have not added feeders. Although, I am considering it only for waste reasons. I would prefer ground feeders for dental health, but I fear that they would end up all over the place. I have very playful and curious horses. I have not figured out the best solution.

    Weather related issues are the rain and the wind. I simply canot feed on the track in very windy conditions. The hay blows away. I have an arena that my horses have access to for shelter. It holds them all comfortably. I have round pen panels set up inside to make a small circular corral. I have purchased 7 or 8 hay bags with the small holes. I hang them all around the panels. This cuts down on waste and keeps them really busy. they have to work for their food and due to the size of the corral keeps them from soiling their food. The nets have to hange low enough for dental reasons, but not too low that they play and get caught up in them. The feeders would be best, but it is a very costly investment. Something I will most likely do when we move to our larger property. Maybe on our larger property it won’t be as much of an issue and we can continue to feed on the ground regardless.

    The only incentive for the horses to move is the food, so it must be spread all around the track or they will “park” themselves and you will lose the benefit of the track. We walk the track with food 3 to 4 times daily, no matter what condition the track is in, including ice. A little scary at times, but they seem to find their way around.

    The only time we will feed in the barn is when the weather is too rough to feed around the track. If it is a blizzard and the hay will get covered too fast, a very cold, rainy, windy, day, or really, really, sloppy conditions.

    Since we feed on the track regularly, even when we feed in the arena, the horses will wander around the track looking for food, and will ususally find some scraps.

    So far, the track is very successful. My horses are moving, they are not obese, and they appear more harmonious and happy. The “boys” are playing constantly and when they feel like it or get stirred up, they charge around the track and kick up their heels.

    These are totally different responses than I would have ever gotten from simply pasturing my horses. Their weight consistency and metabolism being the biggest reward. With the constant movement, there are huge rewards.

    Now, my next adventure….Equine Dental!

  11. Monica Says:

    Hi Marianne,

    You can reach me at 262-370-8100 or through my web site at http://www.thenaturalhoof.com

  12. MaverickKK Says:

    Yahooooo

  13. Ann Says:

    Hi, I have just finished laying out the first paddock with a perimeter fence. The paddock is about 3 acres and the inside fence is star droppers and tape. (total cost about $300).

    The 2 horses love it – stop and browse then move on. The alpacas are moving quite a bit too.

    I have thought about the whole topsoil erosion issue and I think the way to go (I plan to do this soon) is to remove some topsoil and replace it with dolomite, or some sort of road base that won’t blow away. That will stop the erosion and help their feet too.
    (I am in Australia with a hot, windy summer and cool winter)
    Cheers
    Ann

  14. polly peterson Says:

    Does anyone know if this[movement] concept will work if you only have 1 horse?
    And what’s the ideal width of the track, i don’t have the book yet
    Many Thanks,
    Polly

  15. Jane Says:

    Hello all, I have never blogged before, but I have read Jamie Jackson’s book! My daughter and I (me and my daughter ???) are getting two horses the end of this month (Oct. 08) and have just finished the perimeter fencing. We were fortunate to be able to get (with lots of hard work) an old livestock fencing system. We pulled over 70 8′ wooden posts and wound up over 5000′ of high tension wire! We used the posts and exchanged the high tensile for softer wire.

    We live in Upstate NY near lake Ontario. Our pasture is about 5 acres. We put up the wooden posts every 30 ft. with a T-post in between them. Looks great. For the interior fence, I decided to do a similar thing only with t-posts and plastic step-ins (I saw someone else who used these and they had no trouble). I will put up t-posts about every 60′ with the plastic guys every 15′ in between. Hope it works. It can get very wet here and sometimes the snow is very deep in the winter. We will see how things go. I have had bank run gravel brought in for the run-in area as well as the watering site…no streams on my property :o(

    I am so thrilled to be able to do this and just know it will be great for the horses. NOTE: My neighbor (who has four horses in a regular pasture) thinks I am absolutely NUTS. And trying to explain this model makes me sound even nuttier, or like a know-it-all, or to dumb to know any better…I am seriously thinking of buying a few of Jamie’s books and handing them out!! Although a local vet did sound intrigued and said she would read the book.

    Blessings…

  16. Jane Says:

    PS How have any of you electrified the interior fence? Have you run wire above, below, or used a separate charger?

  17. Monica Says:

    Hi Jane,

    We ran the wire below the ground.

    Funny that so many people think you are odd when you talk about the track. I have everyone, including non-horse owners, thrilled and understanding of the concept. Maybe they have me fooled!

  18. Jane Says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement. We did go underground. Works great. Maybe it’s that I have not had horses before, and those who have just don’t think I know what I’m doing. Or maybe I’m not explaining myself very well. ?? I’m also going barefoot and will be using a bitless bridle – two other ideas my neighbors aren’t so sold on. In any case, I think the system is fantastic, and I see our two horses running and playing all the time around the track, while my neighbors horses stand there and look over at them!

    Blessings…

  19. Holli Says:

    Has anyone had trouble with horses fighting or running throught the fence and being injured on a track? I board my horses 3, 2 docile geldings one moody mare. The owners are not interested in us setting up a track as they feel it will harm the horses if they fight and go throught the fence. Any arguments in support of a track or how the herd dynamics works ect.? any input would be appreciated!Thanks

  20. Jane Says:

    I have two horses, one 2 yr. old mare and (now) a 1 yr. old gelding. They have never run through the fence as a result of “fighting” or play. My mare has broken through the outside fence b/c she was frightened by a snow blower, but never b/c of the other horse (and I don’t think my electric fence is strong enough, voltage-wise, either). They run and play all around the track, they just go round and round. As long as the horses respect the fence – they shouldn’t have any trouble. Also, there are some 35 ft. sections on my track and that’s plenty of room for “discussions” I would think, or for a horse to run away if they choose to. As long as the horses are introduced to the track and know where the boundaries are, they should be fine. I am about to introduce a 24 yr old Missouri Fox Trotter mare to my property – we will see how things work out, but my guess is, they will be horses, and figure it out soon enough without too much trouble.

    I love my track system, and the horses reflect the exercise they get – both in their feet and body condition. I would recommend it to anyone!! My track just happened to end up being a 1/4 mile around and I walk it twice a day with hay. As a result, I have lost weight and toned up myself! :o)

  21. Caroline Says:

    I am about to move my 20 year old gelding to a new facility where he will have his own area that is about 100 x 100 feet. It is all dirt (mud in winter, we are in the Pacific Northwest). I was wondering if this would be to small of an area to set up a track for him? I would want to then plant grass in the center for grazing. He is an over easy keeper, who just needs to look at grass and gains weight and I am hoping that if I set up a track it would keep him moving and help keep off the weight. He is my first horse and I need a lot of advice. Any suggestions?

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  45. Mary Erin Says:

    We have just set up a track for our three horses and mini. So far it seems great although I am not sure how mud season will play out. We have had to keep our horses in a sandlot in winters previously as the pastures become very deep with mud. We figure we will have to reinforce the track in the bad spots with stone. What type of stone is best as my one gelding has very sensitive feet and is prone to cracks.


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